Monday, 22 Jul 2024

How To Become a Sports Massage Therapist

Most fans are familiar with the head coach and assistant manager at their favorite football club, but there are many other crucial roles behind the scenes that contribute to the team’s success. One such important role is that of the sports massage therapist.

Massage therapy plays a vital role in professional football, especially in post-match recovery and rehabilitation. Having a dedicated sports massage therapist on staff can make a significant difference in creating a safe and comfortable environment for the players, enhancing their performance on the pitch.

In this article, we will explore the responsibilities of a sports massage therapist in football and provide valuable tips on how to pursue a career in this field.

What is a sports massage therapist?

When a professional football player sustains an injury on the pitch, have you ever wondered how they receive treatment afterward? This is where the role of the sports massage therapist becomes essential.

The primary purpose of a sports massage therapist is to use various massage techniques to treat athletes and aid in their recovery from injuries and physical issues. This includes injuries sustained during training or matches, as well as addressing other problems that arise from daily life. A sports massage therapist aims to reduce pain, inflammation, discomfort, and the likelihood of long-term impact or recurring injuries.

One of the key areas that massage therapy focuses on is muscle pain. Therapists also address issues with ligaments, joints, and tendons. By alleviating pain and inflammation, improving muscle function, and reducing the chances of future injuries, sports massage therapists help athletes perform at their best.

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Sports massages involve manipulating soft tissue to benefit the athlete receiving treatment. Soft tissue includes skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. This type of massage can have a significantly positive impact on athletes, but it requires a range of different skills.

What skills do you need to excel in sports massage therapy?

To be effective in a sports massage therapy role, you need a variety of skills beyond the actual massaging techniques. Here are three essential skills to keep in mind if you’re considering a career in this field.

1. Sports medicine and science knowledge
Scientific knowledge is crucial to this profession. Before becoming a massage therapist, you’ll need to undergo training that familiarizes you with the medical aspects required in this role. Understanding how the body works and the best ways to manipulate soft tissue for different athletes’ needs is essential.

2. Communication skills
Communication is vital in the job of a sports massage therapist. You’ll need the ability to communicate effectively with your clients, providing them with clear and informative explanations of their identified problems and the necessary treatment. Some clients prefer silent treatments, while others enjoy chatting during their massage. A skilled therapist can adapt to each situation, always aiming to make their clients feel comfortable.

3. Empathy
Empathy is key in creating a personal connection with your clients. As you’ll be working with athletes in intimate environments, understanding and relating to their experiences is essential. By putting yourself in their shoes and offering support, you can better understand and treat their pains and ailments.

How to become a sports massage therapist

Now that you have a better understanding of the role and its requirements, here are some tips to help you pursue a career as a sports massage therapist. Each person’s journey is unique, so take the information that resonates most with you and set yourself on the right path.

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1. Gain a better understanding of sports massages
Before starting formal training, it can be helpful to experience a sports massage as a client. This firsthand experience will give you insight into a typical session’s structure and observe effective care and treatment techniques. By learning from various therapists, you can develop your own individualized approach. Additionally, taking the opportunity to ask questions and learn from experienced therapists can provide valuable guidance.

2. Research online
Supplement your informal research by conducting online searches to understand the role’s realities and responsibilities. This self-initiated research will give you a better overall picture of what to expect in this profession.

3. Take a course
Completing a course in sports massage therapy is the best way to start your career in this field. Look for reputable institutions that offer qualifications in this area, such as the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. The specific organization you choose will depend on the country you live in, as different courses may cover various topics and focuses. Typically, these courses take around 12 weeks to complete and provide a Level 3 diploma, which opens the door for further professional development.

4. Further your education
Consider pursuing an undergraduate degree in sports massage therapy or a related subject to enhance your qualifications and skill set. More advanced qualifications will give you the ability to diagnose clients, making you more desirable in elite sports environments.

5. Seek employment opportunities
Once you’ve completed your training and become well-versed in the role’s requirements, start searching for employment opportunities. Practice your techniques and network with others in the industry to increase your visibility. Explore job websites and attend career fairs to find positions that align with your aspirations.

By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful sports massage therapist. Whether you aim to work directly for a football club or pursue opportunities in other organizations or sports, we hope this guidance has been valuable.

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For more career paths in football and elite sports, check out our blog, where you’ll find guides to various specialist roles, such as data and analytics or youth coaching. Start by reading our article on how to become a sports analyst.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Sports vs Deep Tissue Massage: What’s the difference?
Simply put, the primary distinction between sports massage and deep tissue massage lies in their purposes. Deep tissue massage focuses on providing relief from general pain and tension, while sports massage is specifically geared toward treating injuries, repetitive strains, and sprains that accumulate over time in soft tissue and muscles.

Do all football clubs employ sports massage therapists?
Most professional football clubs employ sports massage therapists to ensure round-the-clock access to high-quality treatment for their first-team players. These therapists play a crucial role in post-match recovery and post-injury rehabilitation, making it essential to have them on-site at the training ground.

How can I get a job at a football club?
Sports massage therapy is just one avenue to explore in terms of employment opportunities within professional football clubs. There are many other roles available, and our blog features interviews with industry insiders who share insights into various aspects of the football industry. Start by reading interviews with professionals such as international sports lawyer Jessie Engelhart or Brighton CEO Paul Barber.


In conclusion, becoming a sports massage therapist requires a combination of scientific knowledge, effective communication skills, and empathy. By gaining a thorough understanding of sports massage, completing relevant courses, and seeking employment opportunities, you can embark on a fulfilling career in this field. Don’t hesitate to explore other career paths within football, as the industry offers a wide range of exciting opportunities. Start your journey today and become a vital part of the sports world!